My food sensitivity journey

As an ND, I highly suspected I had sensitivities from the asthma-spectrum medical work-up as a child, my frequent sinus congestion, eczema, and occasional digestive upsets.  I also suspected which foods, and kept them to a minimum.  When I realized my husband's benefits covered naturopathic lab tests (yay!), I decided to find out for certain.  It confirmed for me that dairy and eggs were, in fact, not my friends, though I loved them dearly.  It also confirmed that the child in me, that hated mushrooms, had good reason to.  After eliminating them from my diet for a few weeks, I began to see improvements in

  • digestion,
  • sleep depth (that was unexpected!  and very welcome!),
  • my complexion, and
  • even routine aches and pains.  

Now, years after the fact, I know the consequence of choosing to eat these:  eggs cause acne breakouts, while dairy products make my digestion uneasy and instantly affect my sinuses and eczema, and worsen my neck pain.  Neck pain that I believed I would never get rid of and need to see my chiropractor weekly for the rest of my life.  Food sensitivities surprised even the naturopathic doctor.  After all, I always tell patients, food sensitivities are not death sentences, just an educational tool about your body, do what you will.  At least we can now understand where our symptoms are coming from.

Teenagers & naturopathic medicine

Lately, there have been alot of teenagers going through my office, and parents have been surprised by how much naturopathic medicine has to offer this demographic.  The teens have come in with a range of concerns: acne, premenstrual difficulties, anxiety (one of the most common complaints), digestive upsets, cyclical vomiting, allergies, and concussions.  Naturopathic doctors are medically trained, yet naturally focused, to help patients understand the "quirks" of their bodies and use diet and other natural/lifestyle modifications to help.  Most of these teens were helped primarily with diet changes - low allergy, low inflammation, food sensitivities, increasing key nutrients, as examples.  When the diet changes didn't create enough change, acupressure, herbal medicines, homeopathic medicines, and craniosacral therapy can be pivotal.  Dosages must be adjusted based on age and weight, but otherwise, many options still exist.  It's so rewarding to see these families investigating health concerns and learning more about their natural management options in the early days.  Going forward, these teens are learning great things to stay healthy for life!

Toddler appetite

My youngest is just not interested in food.  We knew it from a young age, when food was first introduced.  She really wasn't as interested in food at 6 months, as her older sister was.  She could have, and did, happily breastfeed to get most of her nutrition.  This, added to the small genetics she gets from her parents, likely landed us at the pediatrician due to her small stature.  She was growing on the very small end of the curve, so I was never worried.  But it calls us as parents to be pro-active and imaginative with her food intake.

 

She has done best with two changes, which I am happy to share with parents that may have the same challenges for you to research further.  Our youngest doesn't seem to DISlike food as some kids do, just not interested in eating it.

1. Food sensitivity reduction

We have our share of food sensitivities in our family, dairy, wheat and eggs being the biggest ones for our family and many of my patient's families.  Reducing her gluten intake did make a noticeable improvement in the amount of food she was able to eat.  Her appetite and bowel habits were better than they had been since her nursing days.

This is likely due to less irriation in her digestive tract.  We all know how little appetite we have after the stomach flu or after eating foods we know we don't do well on.  Our bodies are letting us know what it likes and dislikes for optimal function.  The challenge with a young toddler is their inability to communicate that discomfort and we are alerted by other cues, such as bowel habits, restless sleep, hyperactivity, and perhaps in our case, food refusal.

2. Zinc supplementation

While studying how to help cancer patients with increasing their appetite during chemo, I was reminded of the use of zinc in these cases.  I find so many patients are zinc deficient, and at the time of writing, it is cold-and-flu season.  Zinc would be a great next step to try with our daughter, hoping to improve her immunity and appetite at the same time.  I found a tasty zinc lozenge that she likes, and cut it into small pieces appropriate for a toddler.  We are two weeks into zinc, and again, noticeable improvements in food intake have started to be observed in the past few days.

Please note that zinc supplementation should be monitored by a health professional and can be overused, pushing copper out of the body.  There are specific dosage ranges that we use, based on your child's weight.  If your toddler is a picky eater, upset by textures and more, an occupational therapist would be a great addition to the team.

 

Other areas to research and ask your naturopathic doctor about: probiotics, sensory disorders and the need for minerals, hydrotherapy, and drainage.
 

A few of my favourite things (for children!)

Optimal nutrition

Children are so wonderfully resilient and often so wonderfully uncomplicated.  They are often a product of what goes into them, and what comes out.  What a child is fed often dictates their health - itchy skin, poor sleep or bowel habits, hyperactivity, stomach pains, anxiety - are all often signs of a food sensitivity (as long as the child is well-loved, exercising and getting adequate sleep of course).

Craniosacral therapy

If you haven't tried it for your child - it is amazing for autistic children, anxious children, those with concussions or birth trauma.  The movements are tiny yet profound in their effects and its truly amazing to see these busy children love to lie still for their sessions!  For infants, I recommend trying to coincide a visit with naptime - home visits may be arranged, please ask.

Bach flower remedies and homeopathic medicines

As mentioned in the previous pregnancy post, I love these gentle therapeutic tools for their simplicity yet maximal results.  With the minute, even energetic-level dosages, they can be safely used in most, typically without interacting with other therapies or pharmaceuticals - but always check with Dr Maguire first.
 

Conceive the possibility

Alternative medicines can provide many options for couples hoping to increase their fertility.  The World Health Organization approves acupuncture as a treatment to increase the success rates of IVF, and to help with labour.  Many women conceive while waiting to get into fertility clinics under the guidance of a registered Naturopathic Doctor.  Dr. Gayle does a thorough intake and testing to rule out challenges to fertility.  She helps many couples to cleanse and strengthen their systems and advises improving their diet for 1 – 3 months before trying to conceive.  In that time, hormonal imbalances, cortisol levels, sleep and exercise are all worked on through herbal medicines, homeopathy and acupuncture.

 

For some patients having difficulty conceiving, there are additional testing options available to rule out toxins, heavy metals, thyroid issues, and folic acid metabolism gene defects, all of which play a part in a healthy body and uterus.  Dr Gayle’s approach provides a comprehensive and individualized analysis of your body in preparation for pregnancy.

 

Once pregnant, there are many herbal and nutritional remedies to stay healthy, and reduce symptoms of pregnancy, like morning sickness, heartburn, and blood pressure concerns.  There are also many studies on the use of certain natural medicines to lower mental and behavioral concerns, allergies and asthma in children.  Dr. Gayle sees her pregnant patients in similar timed schedules as the patient’s obstetrician or midwife to maintain great care through pregnancy and treats both mother and child after delivery.